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Jael Silliman is Assistant Professor in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Iowa. She has an Ed.D. from the Graduate School of Education, Columbia University. She works on gender and development issues and transnational movements for social change. She has recently coedited Dangerous Intersections: Feminist Perspectives on Population, Environment, and Development (Southend Press and Zed Press, 1999). She has also written “Making the Connections: Environmental Justice and the Women’s Health Movement,” in Journal of Race, Class and Gender: Issue on Environmental Justice.

 

Abstract of paper given at Hinduism and Ecology conference:
Indian Feminist Responses and Challenges to Environmental Population Paradigms

Indian Feminists have played a key role in the transnational women's health movement which has in turn succeeded in moving international opinion, international health and donor agencies to more "women-centered population policies." This shift in the population paradigm was demonstrated in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1993. As a paradigm shift has occurred with regards to official thinking on population, so has there been a shift in thinking regarding environmental issues. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio, 1992, issues of environment and development have been linked and human rights concerns have entered into the designing of environmental programs and policies. The power of this new approach to environmental issues is demonstrated in the opposition to the Narmada Valley Project--an important global case that has set precedents for environmental policy making. While women have been very active, and often protagonists in the environmental movement in India and the rest of the world, a feminist analysis of environmental issues has not taken firm root in this movement. Thus in key environmental struggles, like the Narmada Valley Project, women's issues tend to be ignored, are absent in the analysis of the problem and consequently women's rights are undermined in policy-making. This paper briefly maps the engagement of Indian feminists in the constructions of a new population paradigm. It then uses the Narmada case study to illustrate how, without feminist active involvement and engagement in the construction of new paradigms, and without an explicit feminist presence in the local struggles, women's rights are undermined and ignored.

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Hinduism and Ecology conference participants